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Bersatu slams 'double standards' in Zahid prison visit to Najib

It says such treatment should be extended to all prisoners.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
Former prime minister Najib Razak, escorted by security personnel at an appearance in court. Photo: Bernama
Former prime minister Najib Razak, escorted by security personnel at an appearance in court. Photo: Bernama

A Bersatu leader today slammed the "special permission" granted to Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi to visit Najib Razak in jail, describing it as a clear and blatant example of bias and double standards on the part of the Prisons Department, home ministry and government as a whole. 

Sasha Lyna Abdul Latif, the deputy chairman of Bersatu's legal and constitution bureau, said other prisoners had to fight for basic medical access and permission to attend the funerals of immediate family members. 

"If this is the treatment that is being given to one or two special people, it should be extended to all prisoners," she said. 

Zahid, who is also deputy prime minister, recently said he had spent almost two hours with Najib at Kajang Prison along with members of the Umno Supreme Council. 

He also said that he had brought along some of Najib's favourite food and enjoyed it together with the former prime minister. 

"We were able to eat together. After meeting for half an hour, it was only the both of us for an hour and a half," he said when wrapping up the 2023 Umno general assembly last weekend. 

Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail later said that Zahid was allowed to visit and eat with Najib with special permission from the prison authorities. 

Sasha said that prisoners are generally allowed visits from immediate family members only, once a month, as well as visits from their lawyers. 

"No other types of visitors are allowed. Family members who do prison visits would know and experience that, there would be a glass barrier between them and their incarcerated family member, and any food brought by the family members will be checked thoroughly and only be given after the session. 

"There is no such thing as having a meal together."

In a statement, she said Zahid's visit was a breach of Article 8 of the Federal Constitution which states that all citizens are equal.

"It is general practice that all other prisoners apart from Najib are not allowed to meet any of their friends from the time they start their imprisonment period until they are released, or in the event that they are facing life imprisonment, for the rest of their lives.
"If this is the stance taken by the Prisons Department, and it has the capacity to grant 'special permission' to certain types of persons, it is therefore only fair for other prisoners to be able to enjoy this special permission.
"Other prisoners should also be allowed to have visitors other than their immediate family members, and the use of the barrier glass should be stopped.
"Prisoners should also be given the chance and opportunity to have meals with their visitors, just like Najib and Zahid were able to share a meal together on prison grounds."